We talked to some of our favorite influencers about the importance of feel-good design - that the objects we surround ourselves with shouldn’t just look good, they should make us feel good. This is especially true when it comes to the Aura Smith frame, which combines top-of-the-line looks with warm-your-heart vibes. See how the Smith frame can be both the centerpiece of any room, and the vehicle for sharing and enjoying favorite memories in this week’s installment of “Smith Styling,” featuring Tommy Lei of MYBELONGING.
Maybe it’s his Hong Kong upbringing, but Tommy Lei has always had a strong connection to fashion and design. As a self-described, modernist creator, interior stylist, and visual “styleteller,” his work has been featured in countless publications from GQ to Buzzfeed and HuffPo Style. Whether he’s adding pops of color to a mid-century modern cottage in L.A. or shooting lifestyle portraits for N.Y. Zoomers, we’re really loving his work over here at Aura.
We met up with Tommy (virtually) to hear more about his home, how he’s styling the Aura Smith Frame, and what he’s doing to make memories in quarantine.
Give us an intro!
Like most of my Millennial contemporaries, I’ve lived many professional lives. I was an online marketer for MTV/Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race back in the heyday when social media was relatively unknown. Then things got interesting — I became a publicist shortly after returning to Los Angeles. It was a wild ride, but an exhausting one that required endless hours of working, number crunching, and schmoozing. This gaysian was tired needless to say!
That pretty much became the catalyst for MYBELONGING - an outlet for authentic self-expression meets a love letter for all things modern. These days my work encompasses modern photography, home decor and interior design. I am fortunate enough to make a living doing what I do best — create beautiful content that tells stories that are personal to me and valuable for others. I am humbled by the platform that I have and feel extremely grateful to be able to speak to a wide and lovely community every day.
Tell us about the interior style of your home.
I believe no matter what interior styles you gravitate towards - the most important thing is that a home should feel like home. It should be a place of warmth; a personal sanctuary you look forward to coming home to. My design sensibilities reinforce those visual ideals - it’s mid-century modern at the core but with plenty of Scandinavian influences peppered in with my Chinese heritage. I love incorporating modern, iconic pieces while making them less stuffy and more accessible in everyday arrangements.
Some of my favorite home decor brands right now are Article, Crate & Barrel, Design Within Reach, Dims Home, Rove Concepts and W.O.W.
What do you like best about our Smith Frame?
I don’t collect memories; I cherish them. That’s why I love my Aura because it allows me to cherish — every day to milestone moments — in a beautiful, sustainable way. There has never been an easier way to upload and display my favorites straight from my own mobile devices onto a crisp, crystal clear frame that mimics an actual photo print.
I love the Black Onyx version of the Smith frame - it’s so versatile. The Smith frame seamlessly complements my existing home decor style. My guest bedroom is, even more, a statement thanks to its finely-etched, elegant frame. It’s like having a living piece of architectural art that brings pleasant energy and delightful conversations for years to come. I can’t wait to show off this piece, incorporate it into my client’s interior design projects, and gift some away this coming holiday season!
What's a favorite memory you have in your home?
Romantic date nights during quarantine with my boyfriend, Braden! We love to karaoke and harmonize together. It’s pretty awesome and cheesy, especially over a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and focaccia pizza.
Alright, so you know we have to ask... Who is a better singer?
Braden, because he’s classically-trained. Me? I am just winging it!
Learn more about Tommy and his aesthetic by visiting the MYBELONGING website and following him on Instagram.